Bill Weye

Tag: Podcamp

Look who’s coming to PodCamp — a newcomer interview

Some of the most important purposes of PodCamp events are introducing and educating newcomers to the world of social media. I’m fairly experienced in the world, but I think understanding how people get to PodCamp and what they get from it is interesting. Insights that newbies give us are how PodCamps and education about social media can improve.

After PodCamp Western Mass I put a call out for a newbie to interview about their PodCamp experience. Jennifer Gilbert (@TheatreChick10 on Twitter) agreed to be interviewed about her PodCamp and social media experience. Thanks, Jennifer.

First, can you give us a little sense of your experience using social media before going to PodCamp Western Mass? And how about since PodCamp?

I have been using Facebook since 2004 and I have been a member of LinkedIn for about a year. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a bit of a Facebook junkie. I use it to keep in contact with friends, family and co-workers and have also dabbled in a few of its applications, Farmville being my favorite but recently I have gotten bored with it. As for LinkedIn, I had only joined and then did not do much else with it. It wasn’t until just before attending PodCamp that I joined Twitter. Kelly Galanis recommended I make an account prior to attending.

Since PodCamp I have only occasionally used Twitter/TweetDeck. Coincidentally, since PodCamp I have been contacted by one of my long lost college classmates through a LinkedIn message. He is completing his Masters in May and is looking for work. I sent him a message through LinkedIn with recommendations for where to look and who to contact. I also followed up with an old co-worker from an internship I did by old fashion email (the only contact info. I had for her) to see if they were hiring. I ended up sending along this information to my classmate through email (got his email through LinkedIn but it was easier to forward him my co-workers info. through email than having to log back into LinkedIn).

You’re new to Twitter. What brought you to using Twitter and how do you plan on using it?

Kelly Galanis recommended I get an account prior to attending PodCamp. At PodCamp I went to several sessions about Twitter, including about the use of TweetDeck. I haven’t yet found a purpose for its use in my life but I haven’t given up on figuring out how to integrate it into my social networking portfolio, for a lack of a better term.

Can you give us a little breakdown of your experience at PodCamp Western Mass? What did you find most useful? What sessions did you attend? And do you think you’d attend another PodCamp? Were there any people you found particularly compelling?

I attended the Social Networking 101 session, how to efficiently use social media session, a TweetDeck session and the panel discussion session. I found all of the sessions useful. All the presenters were very knowledgeable, and willing to explain everything, no matter how naive the question was (and I had plenty). I will most definitely attend the next PodCamp and I’m looking forward to attending more advanced sessions next time as well. I found Lesley the most compelling. She presented the TweetDeck session as well as being on the panel discussion. It was very interesting to see how social networking can be used so effectively for business purposes. However, I am a civil engineer at a private engineer firm that doesn’t yet utilize any social networking tools but maybe by learning more about social networking an application may arise.

One last question, Jennifer. Social media can be a weird thing, at least to me: it can be a deeply social experience, even though some people never meet each other. PodCamps can break down that barrier, making it easier to meet people you might not otherwise have. How do you think you’ll use social media with people that you know or already see “in real life”?

Right now I use Facebook to keep up with family, friends and co-workers in my social sense and I don’t want it infringe upon my professional life. For professional connections I believe I will end up utilizing LinkedIn. As for Twitter, right the only people I follow or that follow me are from PodCamp. I haven’t inquired with any of my friends, family or co-workers to see if they have Twitter. I’m still not sure how I want to use Twitter in my life.

I’d like say thank you to Kelly and Tom Galanis for telling me about PodCamp!

What makes small PodCamps unique?

Since going to PodCamp Western Mass 2 this past weekend, I’ve been thinking about what made this un-conference different from the others I’ve been to, the first and third in Boston. It was different; maybe because of the size changed the dynamic? Note that I said the small PodCamp was unique, not more or less useful.

Doing a little research, I found that PCWM might be the smallest such event taking place. With roughly 100 attendees to the Western Mass PodCamp 2 (twice as many as the first), it offered an opportunity to meet a lot of people, especially when the sessions began with a round of introductions; those intros gave me a chance to meet people who interested me.

I’d like to make two arguments, though I could be persuaded otherwise, and I’ll leave this open for discussion.

Small PodCamps should strive to be more unique, and not try to be like the big boys. We need more small PodCamps being more unique than their big brothers. Being small is an opportunity, not a liability; there’s a chance to be experimental. For example, at the risk of being labeled a heritic, how about less social media being practiced at a social media conference? Kind of crazy, I know, but that follows into my second argument.

At a 7 hour conference of 100 people, with a chance to sit in on 4 different sessions, how many different people could you connect with: 35? 50? More? And at a small event like PCWM, many of those connections could be sustained easier than in a large metro area like Boston, Berlin, New York, or Toronto. In fact, many of the PCWM people go to regular Western Mass Tweet-Ups, so they’re staying connected, in real life, throughout the year.

What would happen if people concentrated on talking instead of tapping? During lunch at PCWM the fellows from the NomX3 video podcast were creating content in front of the room. Honestly, it was kind of a drag. I was trying to have a conversation with the people at my table, only to be interrupted a few times by these guys talking to the whole room. Less social media, more real life connection at a conference, please (I think the kids call it IRL).

We should all give a shout out to the organizers of PodCamp Western Mass, in the above photo, who can be found at their Twitter accounts:

Photo courtesy of @PatBrough

Picking up pieces from PodCamp Western Mass

After attending PodCamp Western Mass 2, I found a lot of questions and notes scribbled on my notepad; here were some of things rattling around my head:

  • I wonder what it would be like if nobody was writing on their laptops and phones during sessions. That means no Twittering. Personally, I can’t pay attention to a presentation or discussion while at the same time writing Tweets. I can jot notes down on my little yellow pad, though, and still follow a conversation.
  • Maybe it’s a personal phobia, but I need a schedule of sessions ahead of time. I like planning my day to optimize the learning I can do in one day.
  • PodCamps at educational institutions are the way to go. They have all the facilitates needed to learn.
  • Maybe having two colors of name badges would be a good idea; self-identified “nubies” would have their own color. It’s a good conversation starter and everybody can make sure the nubies are getting the info they want or need. How about corresponding the nubie color with useful sessions on the schedule?
  • Was there a Facebook session? Wouldn’t make any difference to me because I gave up using it two years ago over privacy concerns. “Social as I want to be” is something I think about when using social media.
  • Surprised there was only one podcasting session.
  • I really like Steve Garfield. I’m kind of a shy person, so his positive vibe, confidence and outgoingness inspires me. I remember him at PodCamp Boston 1 and thinking, “who’s this geek running around with a video camera?”
  • Getting one of my clients (a nubie) to PodCamp turned out to be a good idea. He was able to dip his toes into the social media community, learn a bit, and gain the confidence that he could learn these skills. Plus, we had a great wrap-up meeting at The Tavern in Westfield.
  • PodCamp is not the place to find clients. Concentrate on learning and networking, and that may payoff in a referral. Maybe. Otherwise, don’t worry about doing business.
  • It’s interesting how people interact with the unemployed. It’s like we have a communicable disease with a social stigma that shouldn’t be mentioned in polite company. This observation isn’t unique to the PodCamp community at all, but I did a little experiment during PodCamp Western Mass. On one of the conversation starter stickers I wrote “unemployed,” and to make sure it was seen, I put those stickers on my back. Conversations were started based on the other stickers, but nobody talked to me about being unemployed.
  • I liked the wide variety of skill levels that came to PodCamp. When I heard this dude ask how to register a URL (I think he called it “getting my name”), it blew me away. I take for granted how much learning I’ve done.

Did you have anything rattling around your head after PodCamp Western Mass?

Photo (CC) from stevegarfield

Interview: Morriss Partee on PodCamp Western Mass

Coming up on February 6, 2010, a camp is taking place … no, not the kind of camp where you take swimming lessons and drink “bug juice“. PodCamp Western Mass is taking place at Westfield State College, where people will get together to talk and learn about all aspects of social media. PodCamps have been happening around the world since 2006, so I thought I would invite Morriss Partee, one of the organizers of PodCamp Western Mass, to discuss the 2010 event.

Morriss, aren’t PodCamps usually held in larger cities? Why have one in Western Mass?

Being a Western Mass resident for most of my life, I know that many folks think of our neighboring large cities, Boston, New York, as where the action is. I’ve always felt that we have amazing talent, people, business, organizations and energy right here in gorgeous Western Mass, and thought it would be great to bring all these folks together.

What was it about the first Western Mass PodCamp that made it worth doing a second time?

My hope in organizing the first one, along with social media pioneers Tish Grier and Jaclyn Stevenson, was to foster connections among all of our Western Mass talent; to bring together social media innovators such as Jason Turcotte, and Christine Pilch, alongside business leaders, programmers, artists, web designers and so forth. It was totally a success in terms of learning and networking in a fun environment. Everyone wanted to do it again, so here we are!

Can you please explain to people who aren’t aware, first, what is this “pod” business, then what about the “camp” part?

It’s a funny name, but the main idea is that this is an unconference where we all contribute and share our social media knowledge with one another. The “pod” comes from podcasting, and the “camp” represents the unconference, or grassroots, approach to the event. We stick with the name because it’s trademarked on behalf of the common good. PodCamp is an offshoot of BarCamp, and here’s the wikipedia info on that term’s origins.

It’s called a PodCamp, but are people only discussing and presenting about podcasting? Can you tell me what kinds of things people will see and learn at PodCamp Western Mass?

PodCamp was originally about podcasting, but the name stuck even as people became more interested in all facets of social media. We’ll determine most of the sessions the morning of the event, but tracks and subjects that are shaping up include: Social Media 101, blogging tips & techniques, video blogging, journalism/citizen journalism, social media in higher ed, and programming social apps. But anyone who has social media info to share or a session they want to learn more about, are welcome to submit it, and if there is interest, we’ll put it on the agenda!

Who do you think would most interested in PodCamp Western Mass?

Anyone interested in learning more about social media, including business people, educators, artists, programmers, designers, writers, PR people, and marketing professionals.

I’ve gone to a couple of PodCamps, including the first one, 2006 Boston. The one aspect that surprised me the most was the community spirit among people interested in social media. I think social media has sort of an unsocial reputation — these people can only communicate via the Internet — and that actual face-to-face communication is awkward. But that’s not true! At least not in my experience. Can you tell me about some of your good experiences at PodCamps?

I missed the first PodCamp Boston, but attended numbers two and three, and yes, the community spirit is wonderful. I think that’s part of the reason why PodCamp is such a great and important event– we interact with each other from a distance via computer screen all the time– but there’s no substitute for actually being the same room. I’m thrilled that Western Mass has “grown up” in the online social media space– there are many fantastic people who made friendships at last year’s inaugural PodCamp WesternMass, and I can’t wait to make many more friendships this time around! Including, that I hopefully get to meet you f2f for the first time, Bill!

Thanks for taking the time, Morriss. Hope to see you on February 6th.

PodCamp Western Mass has more information, plus you can register for the event. Of course, they have a Facebook page?

Have you ever been to a PodCamp, Western Mass or otherwise? Have a good story?

What’s happening to PodCamp Boston?

I‘ll be going to PodCamp Boston this year, just like I attended the first one Bunker Hill Community College, but after looking at this growing list of companies (with some very big ones, like Micro$oft), I’ve been wondering how this “unconference” is going to change this year. If the content of the sessions is going to be influenced and created by the participants, then I think PCB2 (what I am calling Podcamp Boston 2) is going to be very different, indeed.

podcamp bostonAm I misremembering the atmosphere and what happened last year, or was there very little selling of products and services? I felt like I was in a community where people wanted to help each other, learn, and grow. I didn’t feel like every interaction with someone was a potential commercial transaction, it felt like an opportunity to meet a cool person, maybe network, maybe meet a future collaborator . . . it was a weekend filled with “maybes,” not a weekend of potential customers.

Reviewing the expanding list of sessions that have been proposed, there seems to be a good mixture of new and old faces . . . along with what could be corporate drones (you can pick them out yourself). I guess it doesn’t surprise me; PCB2 is being staged in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center this year, not the community college. We’re going corporate, a big time convention center that may have better facilities, but still . . . we’re going to where corporations go to show their wares, they aren’t coming to Bunker Hill Community College.

I’ll try to be open minded, but I’m also going to be ready to be disappointed if I feel like corporate culture has invaded this unconference.

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